Let's go to the leafy autumnal glorious countryside of California where there's clear blue skies and Fall colours to die for. Well that was the idea.
Myself and Josh from the Me & Henry side flew from London to San Francisco to meet with Michele who co-owns Vignette and call upon the lovely help of her sister Sheila who conveniently lives in Oakland.
I had visions of stunning forests. Huge trees and a bed of brown and gold and yellow leaves that would set off our Fall collection beautifully.
Add to that a few days in Oakland to get some fab city shots and funky streets and we would add a new dimension to our clothes - good for street wear, play wear and not just smart days.
Clearly my Britishness and over excitement needed to be contained.
Same as my belief that SURELY America doesn’t just close down on Thanksgiving Day - the day we arrived in San Francisco? I mean SURELY not ?
I was wrong. 99% of restaurants, bars and stores were shut. Streets were quiet which actually made for a glorious 24hrs of sightseeing but for Josh my nephew who had never been before - it had a slightly eerie feel about the city. One that can only NOW be described as similar to a lockdown. Ugh. Like we saw THAT coming back in November!!!
We at least managed to squeeze in a ferry tour and tick off some of the best sites.
With so little open we found an amazing sushi restaurant and even went to a cool Cow Hollow cinema and watched a film that would normally be something I’d catch on a plane. All was good.
Except. Look up. Other than a magical few hours as we sailed under the Golden Gate it was grey. Cloudy. Cold.
So I’ve been to San Fran many times and expected fog. So wrote it off and assumed it got better. It kind of didn’t. Lol.
The first shoot was in Oakland and a little hint of sunshine made things a little smilier but the kids and parents were cold - although amazing and resilient. We got some beautiful shots and fab smiles.
We then had a morning planned in the cool neighbourhood of Elmwood in Berkeley.
But my goodness it was cold and raining and dreary. We could be in London. So after a few attempts of taking some inside shots at the wonderful yoga studio that let us use their space for the day - I could have cried when the cloud broke and it stopped raining for a few hours.
The plan was to then move to Petaluma. Time for those forests and trees and leaves I had in my head. The drive was tough with such torrential rain. Hideous.
But keeping our smiley face on we got to the AMAZING place we’d rented - complete with its own mini forest for a garden and an air steam for one of us to sleep in
(Josh - absolutely)
It was all going to be ok!!
Morning came and it was torrential rain again. Dark. Dreary. Cold. Well at least this wasn’t a Spring photoshoot but wow this was going to be tough. Expecting cancellations and excuses we were amazed to see the hardy parents and kids arrive on time all ready for the day. Amazing. If they’re ready we can be ready.
Armed with a HUGE parasol (for those lovely summery days we can only dream of) I stood underneath trying to get shots of kids not shivering with the only distraction being that they could blow fake snow in my face and throw wet muddy sticks and leaves at me.
What they didn’t know was the parasol didn’t quite cover them, me and Josh (who was holding it) so the rain just basically poured down our backs and into our underwear so that they could at least stay dry. Just. Delightful. Who’s idea was this Again?
Day two the same so we attempted to do something I know usually doesn’t work - indoor photography. Yes. Let’s leave London and dreary weather to fly to the other side of the world and take photographs inside because of dreary weather.
Petaluma has a cute hotel and they were very kind to let us use their lobby so armed with 10 children and their parents we took over the heavily Christmas decorated reception and other than a few good shots my attempts to take photos indoors failed. Too dark. Too many people and this case way way too Christmassy. We tried!
Day three started hideous. Almost to the point of us cancelling but the ever trusty accuweather app promised a sunny break by midday so we trusted it and sure enough - like a miracle - sunshine and blue skies for about 6 hours meant we ran around the garden/forest and outside house taking as many amazing shots as we could. Now this is exactly what we wanted. Perfection!!
The location was stunning. We knew it COULD be - but one mother told us ‘oh you should have asked us about the weather first. Visitors should always plan on bringing a totally waterproof rain jacket since its often raining‘ but that DOES mean the kids were used to it and a delight to work with.
Anyone who ever thinks from pics we post that it’s a non stop party might want to check with Michele’s sister who was consistently appalled we didn’t have a second to down tools and play.
We did in fairness have visions of maybe sneaking away one afternoon and partaking in local wine tasting. Maybe a nice lunch in Petaluma and explore the cute town. Nooooo. These photo shoots are FULLY IMMERSIVE, exhausting and at times overwhelming so the most be could manage most evenings after hours of checking all the pics we’d got for the favourites to use - was to vaguely lift a glass of supermarket bought wine and attempt a game of Rummikub.
The glamorous hilarious fun world of a kids photoshoot.
Now.... someone please tell me it’s a good idea to do the Bahamas or Hawaii for Spring 21... (that’s a joke.... oh how I can dream because given the delightful world of COVID we now live in I can tell you that due to travel bans and restrictions we have JUST finished the shoot in London and Cornwall - check back in a few months to see how THAT went!)